Date: 17th November 2008 at 12:53am
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Derby manager Paul Jewell didn’t need much of a team talk at the weekend – Brian Laws had done it for him.

Midweek, Laws had said that the Rams had looked tired against Forest and Leeds in securing a draw and a narrow win at home. That conveniently ignored the fact that Jewell’s men are much improved since their horror run of results on coming down from the Premiership and are starting to look much more like their old selves on the pitch. The Owls boss’s comments were sufficient incentive for the men in white to come onto the park with a positive attitude, and so it proved.

Neither did it help that two experienced Owls midfielders gave early Christmas presents to Derby star playmaker Kris Commons, Steve Watson and James O’Connor the guilty men. Commons scored one and laid on another for Miles Addison; add an un-opposed 30 yard screamer from former Fox Jordan Stewart into the mix, plus a Wednesday side which started with no wingers and width, and the Owls paid big time for Laws’ overconfidence.

Jewell confirmed: ‘Brian said he’d seen our last two home games and said they had a good chance to beat us. That fired us up a bit, and I thought we were by far the better side. It was a comprehensive 3-0 win, and it could have been five or six. But we are not getting too carried away, because we still need to improve the squad, but we’ve got a decent spirit, we are getting better, and we are moving in the right direction.’

Laws at least kept his charges imprisoned in the Pride Park dressing rooms as he tried to get to the bottom of another terrible display away from home, failing to score against a side who are not exactly masters of the clean sheet.

He said: ‘I’ve been in there for an hour with the players because we seem to be psychologically a different team away from home. We are very resilient at home, and have only conceded a few goals, but away we have let in a bucketful… we were not at the races, and that’s why I was in there for an hour, because we’ve got to get this sorted – otherwise I’m going to be very grey by the end of the season! It certainly was not a witch hunt; it was a clear-the-air meeting. I had my say, and they had theirs, and I expect a reaction next week.’

Next week and beyond… a vital period coming up for Wednesday with four matches against clubs below them in the table. It’s crucial that the games against Coventry (H), Blackpool (A), Norwich (H) and Southampton (A) return a significant number of points or the Owls will be at completely the wrong end of the ladder come Christmas, and in danger of being dragged once more into a relegation battle.